TOKYO Honda Motor Co. is sending its engines off-road way, way off-road.
Honda and General Electric Co., one of the worlds premier jet-engine companies, joined to commercialize Hondas experimental jet engine for small airplanes.
This is a great step forward for Honda to enter the aviation business, which has been a dream of the company since its creation, Honda President Takeo Fukui said.
Separately, Honda is discussing with Teledyne Continental Motors Inc. the possibility of joint manufacturing, marketing and servicing of propeller engines for small airplanes.
Pure and simple, Honda and GE create great engines. Its in our genetics and no other companies do it better, said David Calhoun, CEO of GE Transportation and the former president of GE Aircraft Engines. For us, this is the perfect marriage.
Hondas turbofan HF118 jet engine has been through ground tests and more than 200 hours of flight tests. Now the two companies will take what has been a research project and seek to turn it into a business. That will involve getting the engine certified as airworthy, starting mass production of the engine and marketing it to aircraft makers.
Were thinking in terms of making this a business, not just a research and engineering exercise, Fukui said. Twenty years from now, service and parts sales for the engine would be a major source of revenues, he said.
It will enhance the brand power of Honda, he added, even though the brand name under which the engine will be marketed has not been determined.
Other details of the alliance to be hammered out by year end include where the engines will be built and the exact nature of the GE-Honda alliance. Fukui said he was not thinking of forming a joint venture but that he expected costs and profits would be split 50-50.
The HF118 will compete in the 1,000- to 3,500-pound thrust class, well below the smallest jet engine in GEs current lineup, which produces about 5,900 pounds of thrust. Although GE does not supply airframe makers with jet engines in that class, We know all of them, Calhoun said.
Fukui said Honda turned to GE for assistance due to the U.S. companys jet-engine technology, expertise and knowledge of the certification process and its established sales and service networks.
Calhoun praised the HF118 for its affordability, light weight, fuel efficiency, reliability and low cost of ownership. Fukui said the engine offers a 10 percent improvement in efficiency over competing jet engines on the market.
Honda and GE expect the annual market for small business jets that might use the Honda engine to be about 200 or more. Wed see a $3 billion category over 10 years, Calhoun said. It will expand, and it could expand significantly.
Declining to give a market-share target, he said, We want to be the leader in light aircraft carrying less than 10 passengers.
Meanwhile, Honda has been working on a feasibility study to build a horizontally opposed, four-cylinder propeller engine for a small airplane since March of 2003.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a Japanese business daily, reported on Thursday that Honda and Teledyne Continental Motors of Mobile, Ala., are in final talks to set up a 50-50 joint venture in the United States as early as this spring to build such engines.
Honda issued a statement denying the report, saying, The article is complete speculation. Honda has made no decision about this matter.
Yuzo Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this story